Reading: Exodus 23:20-25.
"After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy name" (Matt. 4:9).
Now we come to the meaning of this clause in the prayer, "Hallowed be Thy name."
First, we must step back for a moment to that name itself, the name of Jehovah, usually translated "Lord" in the Old Testament. The name Jehovah means the content, the qualities, which are in God. We saw in the previous chapter that the first name by which God is known in the Bible is Elohim, the God of covenant in redeeming the creation. And then follows this name Jehovah, which contains those features of God's nature which are implicit in His covenant work, particularly righteousness and holiness. If Elohim is covenant love, Jehovah is love as holiness, or holy love. If Elohim is God as Saviour redeeming the creation and covenanting that it shall be a glorious and glorified creation, then Jehovah means that that glory is the glory of holiness. And glorification will come, but only along the line of holiness, or if you prefer, righteousness. That is why righteousness has such a great place in the Word of God. The very covenant God made with the creation in order to glorify it is the covenant of Jehovah Who is the Holy One. Everything that He takes up must partake of His own nature: His holiness, holy and true.
This helps us, perhaps only a little, but it does help us a little towards this prayer, "Hallowed be Thy name", for the name of the Holy One had been dishonoured. Isaiah cried as from the Lord: "My name continually all the day is blasphemed (Isa. 52:5) - blasphemed among the nations because of you, Israel". The Name has been dishonoured; the creation and man, even the chosen people of God have grievously brought dishonour upon the name of the Lord and failed to manifest the meaning of that Name. As we say, they have 'let down' the Name. And when the Lord Jesus included this particular petition in the great prayer, He was only in another way saying, 'Pray that you do not let down the Name!' That is bringing it into common, everyday language and very near home. When you pray, pray: 'Our Father, Who art in heaven, save us from letting down Your name.' To put it positively it is: 'Help us always to honour the Name and to bring honour to the Name.' How far-reaching a petition that is!
It goes right back to the beginning when the meaning of that met its first great challenge. I am not going back again to break up that Name and to repeat what has been said about the challenge to the Name. Its uniqueness, exclusiveness, inclusiveness and supremacy were assailed by one trying to step into its place or to divide that uniqueness and that exclusiveness. A great effort was made to be equal with the Most High, to be God, by one who had no right thereto, a created being. All that is here. The consequence of that challenge after that one was hurled from his high place, determined to be an everlasting enemy of the Name, has been seen all through history. The desire to put other names, other gods, other governments, rulers, dominions and powers in the place of Jehovah is a result of this challenge to the Name. This is a story far too big for us to ever comprehend; the great, terrible story of the defaming, the dishonouring of the name of Jehovah; the challenge to that name.
The Lord Jesus takes up the whole of that in this one simple clause, "When you pray, pray, 'Hallowed be Thy Name'". That word 'hallow' is the same word in the original languages. There are two other words we use: consecrate and sanctify. Three English words for one original word: sanctify, consecrate, hallow. And there is this element that is at the root of the original word - not so much what the Name is to be separated from (although it is that) but what it is to be separated unto. In the Old Testament, while there is much from which that which is of God is to be separated, that is, sanctified, consecrated, hallowed, the real emphasis is upon what it is unto. We are sanctified not only by being separated from things (that is the negative side), the positive side is the emphatic side - what we are separated unto, what we are consecrated unto. Christ consecrated Himself unto the will of God. That involved detachment from other wills, His own included. It is unto, and this petition carries the force of that with it. 'Hallowed, consecrated, sanctified, be Thy name; Thy name come to Thee with all honour, with all glory; be separated unto Thee.' This is something for God; not only taken away from other powers, interests and defilements, but that this Name should be reserved as unto God alone; full of glory, hallowed, separated, sanctified, consecrated unto God. That is why we are not allowed to take the name of the Lord our God in vain, because it is a positive thing for the Lord, something consecrated and holy to the Lord.
How the Name is Hallowed
A great deal of detail could be brought in there, but we have now come to this point, that life in all its contact, character, work, life, in all that we are, in all that we have and in all that we do, is to be brought into accord with the Name. That is how the Name is hallowed, by all life being brought into accord with the Name, brought on to the ground of the holiness of the name of the Lord; set apart unto God. Those who bear the Lord's name have to have their whole life in accord with the Name and in that way alone is the Name hallowed. "Ye shall be holy; for I Jehovah your God am holy" (Lev. 19:2); "that we may be partakers of His holiness" (Heb. 12:10); brought into accord with that Name which means His holiness and His righteousness. These are the Lord's. What we are, our character, demeanour, behaviour, spirit; our impact and registration upon others and upon this world; our activities and our interests, all immediately and unavoidably affect His name. And the Lord says to His own: "Make this a matter of prayer; you want to know how to pray, you say, 'Lord, teach us to pray.' Well, look here, you are on this earth related to God, to the Father, you are His children; as such you bear His name. You have to pray constantly that your whole life will be in accordance with that Name; that the influence of your life, the impact and registration of your life, in what you are, what you do, how you do things, in everything, shall keep that Name from dishonour, shall be the hallowing of that Name."
That is, I know, very simple as a statement. It does not sound very profound, but you and I know only too well how often we trip up on that and therefore very much prayer is needed that the Lord's name shall not be dishonoured. And we must not divide our lives up into compartments, what we call our spiritual life and our other life, whatever it might be, in business or elsewhere. We are carrying the Name all the time wherever we go; in whatever situation we are found, we are carrying the Name, and even if we have not announced it and no one is informed about it, it is coming out sometime and somehow or other. It is going to be discovered that we are professing Christians and at once the Name is involved. We are here for the Name if we are His, and it is a matter for constant earnest prayer that, so far as we are concerned, the Name shall be hallowed.
The Universal Effect of Hallowing the Name
This goes beyond our personal lives - we shall speak more about that again, but you see, this is a universal thing. I believe that the Lord Jesus comprehended the whole range of the Name in this petition. Wherever and however the Name was involved among spiritual intelligences on the evil side, you and I have got to give an answer for the Name that those evil forces shall have no ground upon which to encamp or be gratified. Their great abiding desire for the Name to be dishonoured, must not be satisfied by their getting ground because of us. We are told that the other celestial intelligences are looking on, and they are greatly concerned about the Name. "I send an angel before thee... Take ye heed before him, and hearken unto his voice; provoke him not... for My Name is in him" (Ex. 23:20-21). There is an interest and a concern for this Name among angelic forces. Celestial intelligences are watching, very concerned about that Name here, and it makes a very great difference in that realm whether we observe and honour the Name.
Remember those five verses we read from Exodus. If you do honour the Name, there will be victory and blessing. If you do not respect the Name, see what will happen on the other side. The evil forces are concerned about this. It is a great universal thing that is centred in the Name and therefore centred upon those who bear the Name. God commits Himself to His name.
"Hallowed be Thy name." This name, His name, is the Lord's one concern. It is His exclusive concern, His only concern. How much we could gather up from the Word about God's jealousy for His name and what He says about doing things for His own name's sake. "I do not this for your sake, O house of Israel, but for My holy name" (Ezek. 36:22). That is a note that He very strongly strikes in the Word. His name is His concern; He is jealous for it.
That brings us to a very positive ground. If you and I are really on the ground of the Name, committed to the Name, jealous for the Name, seeking everything only for the sake of His name, if we are taking that interest in His name which angels and demons are taking, or let me go further - if we are in fellowship with Him, the Lord, in His own jealousy for His name, we have the ground upon which God will commit Himself. That is what the Word of God says everywhere. Do you want to find the ground where the Lord will meet you, answer you, commit Himself, be free to move? That ground is the ground of His name. Wherever He puts His name, there He is. Not just the word, the title, but where the Name in real meaning is found, there God is committed. A good deal of discipline and searching has to take place to get us absolutely there. Sometimes we go through very severe fires in order to get us on to the pure ground of the Lord's interests, away from our own.
How often the Lord has to challenge our prayers. Why do you want this? What is it you are after? And even when we would be very honest and say that we want it for the Lord, He knows the mixture deep down in our hearts, those hidden motives. He does not always immediately respond until we come to the point where it is a matter of real anguish for the Lord's glory. And how often the Lord raises that issue in the life of His people in some acute form to bring them to the place where this matter - while it does affect us and involves our own interests and convenience or our own pleasures or even our own honour - ultimately and most deeply touches the name of the Lord, and we are drawn out in agony on that and we let all the other go. The Lord takes that line with His people very often, in order to bring them to the place where they discover God has committed Himself. We do not get there all at once. You may tag your every prayer with "in the Name", but oh, what does it mean if the Lord takes us to task? Are you quite sure that deep down at the very springs of your being it is the Lord's name that is your concern, or is it that there is some personal interest in this matter? Are you really prepared for Him to do it only for His name's sake? That is where God is.
On the one hand, it is the explanation of much fiery purifying of heart and motive. On the other hand, it is the ground of absolute assurance. Get onto that ground, and you can be assured that the Lord is for you. Out of the very jealousy that is in Him for His own name, He is going to watch over it and see it through. His name is involved and God Himself stands or falls by His name, and if it is tied up with that situation, you may be assured the Lord is not going to let His name be dishonoured.
There is a large section of our lives where we cannot find the Lord at all, where the Lord is absolutely neutral. You pray, and the Lord takes no notice. You are not aware that He is answering one way or the other. You are not aware that He is doing anything in you about it. It seems as though He is standing back and leaving the whole thing. You cannot find Him cannot get at Him at all. Why? You are not on His ground. The Lord is not at all interested in your name and my name. He is not at all interested in our interests as such. He is not at all concerned for our things, the things for which we are so much concerned. The Lord is only concerned for His name. There will be that vacuum where there is nothing at all with God until we have come onto His ground. But see how positive He is when that ground is there. If things are really contrary to His name, dishonouring to His name in you and in me, we shall have a terrible time under the hand of God. There will be real discipline; we shall go through it if there is something which is dishonouring His name about which He has spoken to us.
This Name brings in positive factors one way or the other. Either God is absolutely for something, or on the other hand, completely against it. The Name means that, and you have only to read the Old Testament again in that light to see what happened when the Name was sanctified in the midst of His people, among the nations. Oh, how God came out for His name. Yes, He sovereignly transcended much weakness, much imperfection, many faults, but when His people really sought the honour of His name, then He committed Himself. See, on the other hand, what happened when His name was continually blasphemed. Away they went into captivity, handed over to the fires of judgment. The Name was involved.
"Hallowed be Thy name." That is said thousands, perhaps a million times on this earth every week or every day. What does it amount to? Do you not see how necessary it is for us to pray intelligently, not to just say prayers, but to know what we are talking about? Here, in a phrase so often mechanically repeated, is a universe of concern and meaning; it all centres there. May we be therefore those who intelligently take up not just a phrase, but life accordingly, to have everything that is ours with the Name upon it. Oh, put the Lord's name on your home, put the Lord's name on everything that you have, everything that you earn, put the Lord's name on it. Take the Name with you wherever you go. Bring everything under the Name and into the Name and you will see how the Lord will honour. I know what it will cost, but you want the Lord, do you not? You want to know the Lord, you want the Lord to be manifested in your life. Very well, bring everything under the Name, write the Name upon it, and by doing so see that there is nothing that does not hallow His name.